Second Annual Conference




May 29-31, 2008
(Program [PDF])

This conference considers the transnational encounters of groups asymmetrically positioned within global spaces striated by colonial, race and gender divides. How do writers, artists, film-makers, and musicians located in this uneven social world destabilize and reshape the canons of literature, art and music?

The creative, intellectual, and scholarly productions of subordinated groups have transformed common understandings of nation, center, periphery, and minority in unexpected ways. In these shifting transnational and transcolonial spatial and cultural terrains, how does the identity formation of marginalized groups influence their aesthetic choices and political visions? How have notions of cultural authenticity been deployed, erased or critiqued by thinkers and artists who belong to and represent such marginal groups? What do translational interpretive acts reveal about the historical relations between subordinated cultures and national or other centers of hegemonic power? Do new forms of social and cultural contact produce new aesthetic agendas, and what are their implications for postcolonial and transnational theory?

Thursday, May 29, 2008, Royce Hall 314
Opening Reading by Nuruddin Farah

6:30 pm Opening Reception
7:00 pm

Introduction, Alessandra Di Maio, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

7:05 pm Reading by Nuruddin Farah
8:00 pm Audience Q&A and book signing

Nuruddin Farah, one of the world’s most eminent writers, has been exiled from his native Somalia since 1976. His works have investigated questions of social justice, subalternity, racism, neo-imperialistic power, gender relations and the subjugation of women in patriarchal society. A prolific author, he has lived in various nations across many continents, remaining faithful to his lifelong literary project: keeping his country alive by writing about it. The recipient of the 1998 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, his latest novel, Knots, was published in 2007.

Friday, May 30, 2008, Royce Hall 306

9:00 am Welcome, Royce Hall 306
Françoise Lionnet and Shu-mei Shih, co-directors, UCLA Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowships in the Humanities

9:15 am

Introduction: Babli Sinha, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

9:30 am to 12:00 pm —

PANEL: Translating Blackness

Robin Kelley (USC)
“The African Invasion: Musical Encounters in the Age of Decolonization”

Fatima El-Tayeb, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (UCLA)
“Black Europe: Queering the Diaspora from the Margins?”

Alessandra Di Maio, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (UCLA)
“Global Somali Literature”

Discussant: Dominic Thomas (UCLA, Departments of French and Italian)

12:00 pm to 1:30 pm

Lunch Break

1:30 pm to 4:00 pm —

PANEL: “Vernacularism and Colonial Modernity”

Dilip Gaonkar (Northwestern University)
“The Rushdie Apology: Six Texts in Search of a Character”

Kris Manjapra, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (UCLA)
“Crossroads of Crisis: Bengali and German discourses of secular redemption in the 1920s”

Babli Sinha, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (UCLA)
“Who was that masked woman?”: “Modernist tropes of female agency in G.P. Pawar’s Gallant Hearts and Shyam Agarwal’sFall of Slavery

Discussant: Aamir Mufti (UCLA, Department of Comparative Literature)

4:00 pm to 4:30 pm Coffee Break

4:30 pm to 6:00 pm:  

Keynote Speech

, Royce Hall 306
Nuruddin Farah, “Catching Up with Tomorrow”

Introduction: Alessandra Di Maio

Saturday, May 31, Royce Hall 306

9:30 am to 12:00 pm — PANEL: Transnational Feminisms

Inderpal Grewal (UC Irvine)
“Culture, Nations, Transnations”

Eulàlia Moles, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (UCLA)
“Histories of Gendered Colonized Women Subjectivities in a Transnational Perspective.”

Elsa Chen, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (UCLA)
“Transnational Feminist Relations in Contemporary Art: Global Feminisms Considered”

Discussant: Grace Hong (UCLA, Departments of Asian American Studies and Women’s Studies)

12:00 pm -1:30 pm: Lunch break

1:30 pm to 4:00 pm — PANEL: Translation, Migration, and the Avant-Garde

Jeffrey Sacks (UC Riverside)
“Idioms in Translation: Literature, Language, and the Colonial Situation”

Sarah Valentine, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (UCLA)
“Unlikely Lineage: Translation and Recognition in Contemporary Avant-Garde Poetry”

Sonali Pahwa, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (UCLA)
“Claiming Recognition: Translation and Feminist Narrative in Egypt’s Avant-Garde Theatre”

Discussant: Ali Behdad (UCLA, Departments of English and Comparative Literature)

4:00 pm: Closing Reception

This event is sponsored by the Dean, College of Letters and Sciences, the Department of French and Francophone Studies, and the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowships in the Humanities at UCLA.

This program is free and open to the public, however, seating is limited. Parking will be available for $8 on the UCLA campus. Please go to the kiosk on Sunset and Westwood Plaza to purchase a pass for the nearest available lot.

For further information, please contact Laura Clennon at